Friday 21 February, 2020
Day 5 | Noto to Wakura
[Missed the previous post? Check it out here]
I’m feeling a bit broken today. I think I’ve come down with a cold as I can’t stop sniffling. My throat has been hurting for the last few days and my muscles are aching. I put it down to cycling in the cold and secretly hope it’s actually not coronavirus 😬
We kick off our first 32km to Anamizu. The weather is a lot nicer today with the sun out, blue skies and a top of 10 degrees. We’ve even decided to wear less layers today!
The first 10km along the coast is undulating before we turn inland. There’s one long steady climb before we reach a tunnel, turning into a awesome decent into town.
We are stopped by some roadworks but in Japan these are more like traffic light stops with countdowns.
After making our way through the roadworks we take a lunch break at the local Family Mart.
Another 20km or so later we cross Noto Twin Bridge onto Notojima (Noto Island) before crossing back off the island and into the town of Wakura.
Some stay and explore the island but we’ve decided to stick to the coast and head straight to Wakura.
Navigating our way through Wakura has a bigger small town feel, much like Sokcho in South Korea which is very seasonal. The town is known for the Wakura Onsen, which has natural spring salt water in its spas.
Our accommodation is Okudaya Ryokan and we’re getting used to staying at this style of traditional Japanese guest house. We’re both looking forward to using the onsen as the last few days have caught up to us.
The lady owner greats us warmly and explains everything to us in Japanese with a few words of broken English. The room is massive with a table set up in the centre where we will later set up our futons.
After unpacking our things we change into some robes and make our way to the guesthouse onsen as soon as we can.
The onsen is much smaller than yesterday’s one at the college dorm accommodation but it’s much nicer having the place to yourself. However the water temperature is so hot that I spend a good 10 minutes sitting on the edge of the bath trying to talk myself into taking the plunge. I dip one limb in at a time, try splashing myself, and even try adding some cold water from the shower head (which I’m sure messed with the mineral PH balance) yet I still couldn’t bring myself to step into the scorching hot water. Eventually I tell myself to suck it up and just get in, which I do. I last all of 30 seconds before I have to jump out. I can’t imagine anyone lasting the recommended 10-15 minutes in something that hot!
After refreshing ourselves we decide to take a walking tour of the town. We check out Kadaya, a super pricey hotel along the water that costs around $400 a night. As we wander past you can see straight away that it’s one of the more high end hotels around.
We wander a bit further towards the water and discover Wakutama aka Egg Boy, the town’s local mascot.
After a few photos we wander back around to a spa display and also Little Picnic, an American themed diner.
A bit further down the road we find the famous Wakura Onsen. There is a small Wakutama statue out the front with him carrying his onsen tamago, which are eggs cooked in hot spring water.
The onsen is pretty big and even has a foot spa outside for the general public to use. We decide we’ll come back later for a visit as it’s open quite late and we’ve already had our first dip not too long ago.
We then make a stop at the Noto Milk Factory for some gelato.
It’s a pretty cool looking place, both outside and in, and we step out of the cold to grab a table.
Aside from gelato and drinks, they also sell merchandise and gifts.
There are some interesting gelato flavours and Cheye decides on Kanazawa Yuzu and Green Vegetables Cheesecake, which isn’t something I’ve ever come across before.
The yuzu flavour is delicious but the vegetables cheesecake has a bit too much matcha flavour for my liking.
We pass by a souvenir shop and have a browse. Cheye picks up a beautiful looking box of Kuromitsu Kinako Mochi and also a small Wakutama plush to go with the Nottorin plush I picked up yesterday.
A small dog is hanging around the counter as we pay so of course Cheye becomes friends with him.
We continue on into the cold and hunt down a few bakeries. The first doesn’t have much left at this time of day but we find another called Char Bell B that still has plenty of good things on offer.
We pick up a few things for later, including a Totoro bun that I can’t pass up. I’m all about the cute Japanese things today!
It’s nearly 6pm as we head back so we decide to swing by a local Okonomiyaki restaurant we had our eye on earlier. We are the first ones there and after asking for an English menu we order two vegetarian Okonomiyaki (Japanese savoury pancakes). On the wall next to our table is a poster showing you the process of cooking Okonomiyaki.
Each table has a grill plate on it as you mix and cook the ingredients yourself, however after waiting about 15 minutes the chef comes out and places the already cooked pancakes on the hot grill in front of us. I think after realising we were tourists they didn’t trust us to cook them ourselves ,even though we had done just that only a few days earlier in Shinjuku.
The meal is amazing and a nice change from Family Mart. As we eat more people start coming in. A large group of guys take one of the lower floor tables and a two young Japanese girls sit at the table next to us.
We actually don’t mind the chef pre-cooking our dish as one of the Japanese girls on the next table has made a mess with her pancake mix ending up all over the grill plate. We applaud when the other girl finally flips her pancake successfully and they have a laugh with us. However we can sense the smell of something burning a few minutes later and figure it’s time to leave.
One of the best things was it was super cheap. We ordered two Okonomiyaki, two beers and Cheye decided he wanted to try the onsen egg and it all came to 2,500 yen (AUD $34).
We head back to our accommodation and it’s gotten quite chilly. We contemplate going for round two at the onsen but decide the warmth of our room was too comforting for us to leave as we prepared for our next few days and potentially another trip back to Japan later in the year.
NOTE: As I finish editing this blog a year later we had originally planned to return to Japan in October 2020 but have had to postpone this trip twice due to Covid-19. Who knows when we’ll eventually be able to travel again!
Distance cycled: 63km, mostly coastal roads, one big hill and lots of undulation
Accommodation: Okudaya Nanao Ryokan
Breakfast: Family Mart
Lunch: Family Mart
Dinner: あうん (Aun)
Ice cream: Noto Milk Factory
Bakery: Char Bell B
Read our next post here: Day 6 – Wakura to Takaoka